In the Clouds Photography

A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Yes, if the grain storage bins are holding wheat.
Perhaps the best primary rainbow I've ever seen made impressive by the very dark skies behind as well as the church (Latter-Day Saints). The secondary bow is also quite obvious to the left of the church steeple.
The physics of rainbows is explained best in Dr. Craig Bohren's book "What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks" - the second best atmospheric science book ever written behind another of his titles: "Clouds in a Glass of Beer". Two superb books by the Robin Williams of teaching (recall "Dead Poets Society").
A fencepost blocks the sun so a 22° halo can be photographed. 22 degrees refers to the angular measure from the sun to the edge (radius) and can be estimated on the scene by stretching your arm straight and extending your thumb and pinky fingers: your thumb touching the sun and your pinky touching the halo edge. Try it if you ever see a halo or sun-dog (perhelia). If it doesn't match, then it isn't a 22° halo.
A street lamp is used to eclipse the sun and better reveal the iridescent cloud. This phenomenon is VERY common though not usually this impressive - you only need to take the time to look for it whenever the sky has very thin cirrus clouds.
Sunflower (Helianthus) eclipses sun but also aids in photographing an iridescent cloud.
Perhelia (commonly called sun dog) occur to the left and right of the sun at 22 angular degrees as a result of thin cirrus clouds composed of ice crystals (hexagonal plates).
Unlike halos which require clouds composed of ice crystals, iridescent clouds can be caused by clouds composed of either water or ice.
This faint circular bow is referred to as a glory, pilot's bow, and Specter of the Brocken and is often seen on the tops of stratus clouds with relative uniformity and composed of water drops (not ice crystals). The shadow of the plane is the center, or if you're really fortunate, the shadow of your head in the case of climbers on top of mountains with clouds below and sunshine above.

Online Shop

Interested in purchasing an image? See the list of specials or click any thumbnail for more information.


Suggested reading & related info:

The Nature of Light & Colour in the Open Air by M. J. G. Minnaert.
Color and Light in Nature by D. K. Lynch and W. Livingston.
What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks? by Craig F. Bohren.
Rainbows, Halos, and Glories by R. Greenler.
*Note: An easy way to estimate if a halo or sun dog is 22° from the sun is to hold up your arm outstretched and spread your thumb and pinky-finger; while placing your thumb over the sun. The angular measure between your thumb and pinky is 22°. This general rule works extremely well for all people, adults and kids alike since kids have short arms but small hands. Try it sometime and if your thumb covers the sun while your pinky touches the halo or sun dog, then you know it is a 22° halo.